The path of the modern-day, eCommerce, self-starting entrepreneur has been very well-defined over the years. There’s really no need for re-inventing the wheel at this point. It’s more about believing in your product, finding your niche, and incorporating new technological advances and ideas into a solid and tested system.
By utilizing the power of plentiful tools available online, you can quickly set up your very own e-commerce. Your spendings do not have to be enormous, and they will most likely depend on how good you are at shopping around for a good deal, and how much of your own time are you willing to invest.
Things to know before you get started
There are several questions you need to answer before starting your own e-commerce. The answers to these key questions will be the foundation of your business plan. The better and more precise you are at answering them the fewer troubles and hiccups you’ll have in the development that follows.
What is my product?
The first thing you need to do is decide exactly what are you planning to sell and all the intricate details related to it. How should it look, what will be the price, how will it get made and or in some cases, who will supply it? Visualize every step that you’d need to go through before having a complete product, ready for sale and tied up in a nice little bow.
What is my target audience?
So you’ve decided what you’re going to sell, but who are you going to sell it to? If you have a great idea for a product, building an entire, functioning business won’t do you any good unless you have someone who is willing to pay money for it.
Imagine your ideal customer and try to jot down specific characteristics. Don’t be afraid to go into details. There are a lot of people out there, some of which are bound to fit the profile. After that, work on figuring out where your target audience hangs out, and try to find indicators that will suggest the size of your market niche.
What is my competition?
The next step is another important aspect of market research – analyzing your competition. When you get a list of those whose products, ideas and/or mission are similar to yours, you need to figure out what they’re doing right, what they’re doing wrong, and why would people want to buy your product and instead of theirs.
What is my brand?
Finally, you need to reflect on the passion, the mission and the vision which will be driving your business. You will need to communicate all of them as a simple message which will eventually become your brand’s essence, primarily made up from your company name and logo, but not entirely limited to those two things.
Setting up your online store and website design
Your website will be the center point of your entire e-commerce. It will be a place for your customers to get information about your company, your products and eventually, a place where they will make purchases. Not unlike physical stores, you need to make sure that the ‘surroundings’, or more precisely, the content, is designed in a way that retains people’s attention and keeps them coming back for more. This goes not only for graphics like illustrations, product photos, fonts, and other overall website design characteristics but for the copyright as well. You need to pay attention to what’s being said and not just how everything looks.
There are numerous places where you can set up your online store with just a few clicks of a button. Shopify, Squarespace and Wix are the most well-known brands in the field. They’re famous for being user-friendly, offering lots of features, and are relatively flexible in terms of design. That being said, you should always shop around and see if a cheaper option is more suitable for your needs and budget.
Accounting tools for your finances
Bookkeeping is probably no one’s first idea when we’re talking about “business” and “fun”. Nevertheless, keeping detailed records of your company’s transactions is something you must do, if you want to save yourself from serious headaches come tax time.
One of these essential financial documents that you’ll need to track, organize and keep close at hand are invoices. Aside from being your security blanket come tax time, they will also provide you with a great overview of past transactions and useful data for updating and redefining your market niche. Creating invoices might sound like a drag.
Once you have all of your files organized and set up, you’ll want to consider investing into a tool that will help you with everyone’s least favorite aspect of running a business – doing your taxes. TaxJar is a technology solution built specifically in order to help e-commerce businesses manage their taxes. It offers comprehensive sales tax reports, one-click automated filing and much more.
Defining your market niche further
You should familiarize yourself with your customers as much as you can. There are numerous ways to track your customers’ characteristics and behavior, but Google Analytics has established itself as one of the essentials. It offers real-time insight, details about your audience and how are they finding your website, what they’re doing and who’s doing the buying.
When you find out what type of person would be the most interested in your product, work out a strategy for reaching them. These days, the best way to get the message about your product and brand across is content marketing.
Blogs, videos, podcasts, social media. All of them have a common denominator, which is SEO. In order to get the most out of every single post you make, you need to be in the loop and spot the questions people are asking. Your best friend will once again be a specialized tool – SEMrush being a representative example. It’s great for keyword research, it provides you with details about advertising opportunities, and it allows you to research your competition in terms of ranking.